SAM TWEEDIE: Norfolk headmaster and Dunkirk veteran

Dunkirk veteran, second world war RAF pilot and former Norfolk schoolmaster Sam Tweedie has died, aged 90.

Mr Tweedie, an Ulsterman, grew up in County Down and followed his father into the linen industry, turning out damask cloth for the great steamship and railway companies of the world. He left Northern Ireland for good after he had volunteered for Territorial Army service and had begun active service at the outbreak of war in 1939.

At 20, while in the Royal Artillery, he was among the hundreds of thousands of British Expeditionary Force soldiers left trapped in northern France by the Nazi advance. He spent three days under enemy fire and bombardment on the beach at Dunkirk before being shipped to safety on board the destroyer, HMS Worcester, in the evacuation.

In due course he was selected for the RAF and was trained to fly in Pensacola, Florida. On gaining his wings, he flew Catalina flying boats, Mosquitos and Beaufighters, serving extensively across Britain and in the Middle East and India, and attained the rank of flight lieutenant.

To be home in time for his wedding in 1944, he hitched a ride from Egypt in the bomb bay of a USAAF Liberator, there being no RAF transport available.


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After being demobbed in 1948, Mr Tweedie went to Wymondham Training College and obtained his ministry of education's teacher's certificate. He taught at schools across Norfolk and north Suffolk before taking the headship at Gooderstone Primary in 1959. He was chairman, secretary and founder of the village's playing field committee and was also president of the Tennis Club, which he started.

Four years later, he began a stint of some 20 years as head at Ditchingham, where he was instrumental in bringing the village a new playing field and oversaw the lengthy transfer of the primary school from its original Victorian home to its present building off Loddon Road.

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Mr Tweedie leaves his wife of 66 years, Mary, and five sons. A sixth son died in infancy.

The funeral service will be held at St Peter's Church in his home village of Hedenham on Monday at noon.

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